Youth ministry rapped for decision to pay Chicco N$10m rent

Erastus ‘Chicco’ Shapumba

Popular Democratic Movement parliamentarian Maximalliant Katjimune has slammed the decision by the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service to pay over N$10,8 million to businessman Erastus ‘Chicco’ Shapumba for rentals.

The ministry plans to move into the Shapumba-owned property in the heart of the central business district in the second half of the year, a move which is set to double their current rentals.

The ministry’s executive director, Erastus Haitengela, says they are currently paying N$450 000 per month, which totals N$5,4 million a year.

Haitengela says the decision to move to Shapumba’s new building will allow all staff members to work in one location and offer a better working environment.

“The rental amount will be more than double what we are currently paying Namibia Industrial Development Agency (Nida). The difference is that we are not all housed under Nida [sic] now, but where we are going, we will be,” Haitengela told The Namibian yesterday.

The Namibian also sent questions to Shapumba. He said he was unable to talk while at the farm with a bad network conection.

Katjimune, however, says the decision by the ministry is another demonstration that it has run out of ideas under an uninspired and tired leadership, adding that “is why the state of youth and sport affairs in this country are [sic] so dire”.

“This latest move is a flagrant waste of taxpayers money, especially when one considers that hundreds of millions of workers worldwide work remotely due to the advancement of technology, so there’s no need to accommodate all the staff at one building. This money should rather be prioritised for the renovation of our dilapidated youth centres and sport facilities”, he said.

Landless People’s Movement youth command leader Duminga Ndala shares Katjimune sentiments, labelling the move wasteful.

“In our opinion, moving to a new building is unwarranted, and a waste of resources, particularly given the ministry’s shortcomings in addressing the socio-economic status of young people,” she says.

Erastus Haitengela

Ndala says these funds could be better directed towards existing programmes aimed at expediting the development and advancement of young people.

“Additionally, the ministry should consider establishing a youth development fund specifically tailored to support unemployed and underemployed youth within small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sectors,” she says.

She believes that these are the issues that the ministry should prioritise.

“While we acknowledge the ministry’s desire to operate from a bigger building, priority should be given to programmes and initiatives geared towards youth empowerment and socio-economic advancement,” Ndala says.

Parliamentarian Inna Hengari says the ministry needs a complete overhaul, if the young people are ever going to reap the fruits from its programmes and projects.

“Just a few months ago, we discovered that the ministry’s projects of getting young people economically active are limited to getting them trained as security officers under the National Youth Service and as employees in the charcoal industry,” she says.

Hengari says while consolidating staff members into a single location may seem beneficial for cohesion, doubling rental fees raises concerns about the fiscal responsibility of the ministry.

“This move appears economically unsound, especially considering the significant increase in property rental charges documented in the budget books,” she says.

The member of parliament says the sharp rise in rental fees from N$3,2 million to N$6,2 million, within a short period, indicates a lack of prudent financial management.

“Such a substantial increase could have been avoided through alternative cost-saving measures or negotiating better lease terms,” she says.

Hengari says the criticism regarding the ministry’s neglect of its core mandate, youth and sport, raises questions about its ability to prioritise effectively.

Inna Hengari

“Investing significant resources in a new building, while facing criticism for failing to address fundamental issues within its mandate, suggests a misalignment of priorities,” she says

Daily newspaper New Era last month reported that the tender procedures and processes were allegedly flouted to pave the way for the deal.

“The building, which is currently undergoing minor renovations, is situated along Independence Avenue in Windhoek. It was intended to be a hotel, this publication has been informed. It is reportedly owned by property mogul and northern businessman Erastus ‘Chicco’ Shapumba,” it reported.

Haitengela says the ministry’s staff members are split between Nida’s offices and the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture at Government Office Park.

“The ministry was not only housed in the Nida building, but a big directorate of the ministry, dealing with administration, was also housed at Government Office Park. The ministry has been looking for an office space for quite some time now to accommodate its total staff complement to improve on efficiency of service delivery,” he said, adding that his ministry had been given notice to move by the education ministry.

Haitengela said the Nida building does not provide an environment which can meet the needs of the youth, due to the host of challenges they are facing and due to the fact that it cannot accommodate the ministry’s needs.

“We are responsible for youth and sport development and it is important that we should have office space capable of accommodating [young people’s] needs,” he said.

Haitengela said currently the ministry is paying for two of its three directorates and, therefore, it cannot be compared to the place where they are moving to.

“The amount quoted is in line with what the Ministry of Works and Transport allows for renting of office space as charged per square metre in the central business district area, hence they approved it,” he said.

“In terms of moving to the new premises, it is still unclear as there are lot of items and technical issues we need to resolve and address first. We might move in only towards the second half of the year,” Haitengela said.

Budget books show that the ministry’s administrative office has seen an increase in property rental and related charges.

In the 2021/2022 and 2022/2023 financial years, the ministry paid N$3,2 million and N$3 million, respectively.

This amount shot up to N$5 million during the last financial year and a further increase is expected this year to N$6,2 million.

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